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March 08, 2004 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 8, 2004 - 7B

Gi ven one
last chance,
M I s short
By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
Perhaps the best insight into an athlete's character
can be seen in how he deals with failure. At times the
competitor can fall into a funk, a seemingly never-end-
ing downward spiral. It happens with batting slumps
in baseball, with poor shooting in basketball and cer-
tainly with a string of subpar marks in running and
jumping in track and field.
During this weekend's Alex Wilson Invitational at
Notre Dame, five Michigan athletes participated in
what is known as a "last-chance meet." Taking place
during the final weekend before the NCAA Champi-
onships, it was a last shot to qualify for a trip to Fayet-
teville, Ark. But, only one athlete could match his
previous high, and every Wolverine fell short of a pro-
visional or automatic marks.
Fortunately for Michigan, the general mindset of the
team is converting the pain of failure to motivation for
future performances.
"This meet was sort of 'If you did it, great,' " Michi-
gan junior Rondell Ruff said. "If not, we still have out-
doors."
All five athletes came close to their goals, including
junior Nathan Taylor, who matched his best time in the
60-meter dash but fell a mere .04 seconds short of the
NCAA provisional qualifying standard.
Ruff also came within a second of reaching the pro-
visional mark in the 800-meter run. Michigan already
has two qualifiers in the 800-meter run - Junior Nate
Brannen, the defending NCAA champion, and sopho-
more Andrew Ellerton. Ruff made a significant jump
during last year's outdoor season, from 1:52.74 to
1:50.99, ajump he thinks he can repeat.
"It's likely I'll repeat that change," Ruff said.
"Maybe even at a greater distance. I'd like to be
under 1:50"

M WOMEN'S TRACK
Gallo, Blue put a close
to solid indoor season

By Matt Venegoni
Daily Sports Writer

RYAN WEINER/Daily
Nathan Taylor matched his personal-best time in the 60-meter dash, but fell short of the NCAA provisional time.

A similar jump this year could put him in good
shape for the regional qualifying meet.
Freshman Jeff Porter, a newly crowned Big Ten
champion, already earned a provisional qualifying
time in the 60-meter hurdles, but went to Notre Dame
in hopes of reaching the automatic standard. Though
he couldn't match his time of a week ago, he was still
faster than the provisional standard. With his time at
the Big Ten championship, Porter is sitting in a six-
way tie for 16th place nationally, hoping to be one of
the 18 who earn a trip to the national championships.
In the field events, Michigan also had two competi-
tors trying to qualify for the championship. Junior
Darren Adams jumped 6 feet 8 inches in the high
jump, three inches less than he did in the Big Ten
championship. After steadily improving through the
indoor season, Adams appears in good shape for the
upcoming outdoor season.
Freshman Michael Whitehead jumped to a third-
place finish in the Big Ten Championships last week,
but this week he jumped six inches shorter. Whitehead

missed the provisional standard, but this disappoint-
ment will serve as motivation for him, just as it has in
the past. When looking back at the beginning of his
triple jumping career, Whitehead describes himself as
"unathletic" and "garbage." Finishing last week after
week frustrated him and drove him from the bottom of
the pile to second in the nation during his senior year of
high school. Disappointment over missing this year's
indoor championship will inspire Whitehead to aim for
school records that he believes are within his reach.
"My freshman year of high school, I wasn't any
good at all," Whitehead said. " I'm not bent on the fact
that there are people who will jump farther than me. I
will catch them."
Whitehead has his sights set on winning the outdoor
Big Ten Championship.
Although Whitehead and his teammates struggled
to reach their marks this weekend, they have two
weeks to regroup before the Florida State Relays in
Tallahassee, Fla. The relay meet will mark the start of
the outdoor season.

A wise person once said that there
are no endings, just new beginnings.
That's especially true for the
Michigan women's track team.
While this weekend's Alex Wilson
Invitational was the last chance for
all the Wolverines to participate, the
new beginning - the outdoor sea-
son - kicks off in just a couple
weeks.
This weekend presented the last
chance for individuals to qualify for
the NCAA championships and set
personal records. Most of the team
just trained through the weekend,
but there were eight team members
who did participate.
One Wolverine who took advan-
tage of the meet was Lindsay Gallo.
The redshirt junior posted an NCAA
provisional qualifying time of
2:07.97 in the 800-meter run on Sat-
urday. Her time - a personal
record - was 1.03 seconds under
the NCAA provisional standard and
bettered her previous best time by
2.34 seconds.
"This was sort of a tune-up for
indoor nationals, but it definitely
made me feel prepared for it,"
Gallo said.
Gallo has already qualified for
the NCAA meet in the mile and
3,000-meter run, and is the anchor
of Michigan's distance medley relay.
"I feel like I am really ready to
run well next weekend," Gallo said.
"It's definitely a good feeling to
keep (setting personal records), even
much for
talent, but when half put it together,
the other half doesn't."
Two events into the meet, Michi-
gan found itself trailing UCLA by
1.5 points. UCLA opened on vault,
where senior Jeanette Antolin scored
her fifth consecutive 10.0. The Bru-
ins also had a 10.0 score on bars. On
vault, bars and balance beam, UCLA
is ranked No. I in the country.
The miscues continued for Michi-
gan on the floor exercise. Becca
Clauson's 9.900 was the top score on
the event for the Wolverines. Usual
leaders Ray and Ryals stepped out of
bounds and fell, respectively. Deiley,
competing in the floor exercise for
the first time since her ankle injury
early in the season, posted just a
9.650 after stepping out of bounds
during her routine.
"Becca Clauson had a great meet,"
Plocki said. "She did very well on
all three events. I thought her vault
was better than the score reflected.
"It's not that we go through meets
without any positives. We have posi-
tives that I could point to from every
meet. The bottom line is if we're
counting mistakes or counting falls
the team is not going to succeed."
The Wolverines finished on beam,

at the close of the season. As for
being satisfied - I won't know
until after Nationals."
While she has qualified for the
800-meter run, her priorities lie with
the distance medley relay and the
mile. Coach James Henry said that
Gallo will not run the 800-meter
next weekend, she just wanted to get
a good time in the event before the
NCAA's.
Senior Vera Simms also per-
formed well this weekend running
the 400 meter. She clocked in with a
personal best of 55.70 seconds,
although that time did not qualify
her for the NCAA meet.
"This weekend was about wanting
to continue to compete, and it was
good to see those that wanted to,"
Henry said.
For most of the team, the indoor
season is now officially over. There
is a small group of runners partici-
pating in the NCAA meet, but most
of the team is excited for the begin-
ning of the new season.
"We have different goals that will
motivate us for the outdoor season,"
Henry said. "We would like to get
our fourth straight Big Ten title."
Besides another opportunity to
win the Big Ten championship, the
team also has the chance to go to
places like Florida and Stanford.
"Outdoor holds new possibilities
for everyone," sophomore Katie
Erdman said. "The change of
scenery will be well-received, and
we're going to respond better than
ever."
Michigan
which was their best event of the
evening. Ray tied for first on the
event with a 9.950 and finished
fourth overall. Ryals recovered from
her fall on floor to post a 9.875, her
personal-best in the meet. Solid sup-
port from Bruck, Deiley and Clau-
son brought Michigan's score to
49.275, but it wasn't enough to beat
the Bruins.
UCLA stuck on beam and on floor
- where it earned a third 10.0 score
- to clinch the victory. UCLA's
composite score was its second best
of the season, behind the Bruins'
NCAA record-tying score of
198.875 against Oregon State.
"This was their senior night and
there were 'alot of emotions," Plocki
said. "You can't take anything away
from a team that is going to go out
there and hit their performances.
UCLA is a fantastic team."
Michigan, however, has not been
hitting routines in the way that Ploc-
ki desires.
"It's very frustrating from a
coaching standpoint," Plocki said.
"What we need to do to get this ship
on the right path. It's hard for us
because we're not really quite sure
how to fix it."

Perfect Bruins too 1

By Melanie Kebler
Daily Sports Writer

In gymnastics, the 10.0 is a covet-
ed score and a rarely achieved state-
ment of perfection. So how do you
compete against a
team that notches
not one, or two, V A4.
but three 10.0
scores during the same meet?
The Michigan women's gymnas-
tics team - which struggled through
and lost its last two meets - had to
ask itself this question yesterday
night, when it lost to No. 1 UCLA in
Los Angeles by a large margin,
198.325-195.725.
"Our goal was to try to put a h'et
together on the road so thatwe could
come home with a good awaysetdre
to help with our regional qualifica-
tions," Michigan coach Bev Plocki
said. "Unfortunately, we didn't
achieve that goal."
Michigan began on bars, where
senior co-captain Elise Ray led the
Wolverines with a 9.950 score, tying
her season-high mark from last
week against Georgia. She per-
formed last, after senior Calli Ryals
fell during her routine. Ryals suf-

fered a strain two weeks ago at West
Virginia and was not quite back to
all-around strength yesterday, com-
peting in three of four events.
Injuries have kept the Wolverines
from having a lineup at full strength
throughout the 2004 season. This
began with injuries to Lauren
Mirkovich and sophomore all-
arounder Jenny Deiley.
"Early in the season, I think it was
a factor," Plocki said. "Injuries have
absolutely nothing to do with our
performance tonight. We can't fall
back on injuries because compared
to a lot of other teams, we're healthy
right now."
Following a 49.100 score on bars,
things got worse for the Wolverines
when they moved to vault. After a
9.800 performance on bars, standout
freshman Lindsay Bruck miscalcu-
lated on her vault and sat down on
the landing. Because fellow fresh-
man Clare Flannery also fell on her
landing, Michigan had to count a
fall, making it the lowest-scoring
event of the meet for the Wolverines.
"If there's a theme (to our prob-
lems), I haven't figured it out," Ploc-
ki said. "It's disheartening. This
group has an enormous amount of

Senior Elise Ray tied her season-high score of 9.950 on the bars, but it wasn't
enough as UCLA prevailed.

Bobby Knight impression not enough in loss

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By Julie Master
Daily Sports Writer
On Saturday night, the judges at the
men's gymnastics meet in Iowa were
grilled about their scoring.
Some might have thought Bobby
Knight was doing
the arguing.
But on second w 2,7.9
glance, it was the
normally well-mannered and laid-back
Michigan coach, Kurt Golder.
"I used to be on the coaching staff at
Iowa," Golder said. "My former secre-
tary came up to me at the end and said I
looked like Bobby Knight out there,
fighting with the officials. But, I had to
fight for my athletes."
Losing by a score of 217.925-
213.550, the Wolverines could never
seem to get ahead of the Iowa
Hawkeyes. And the double whammy of
not getting the scores they felt they
deserved and not performing their best
made it impossible to win.
All night the Wolverines were in a
battle with the judges. Golder especially
didn't agree on the vault score given to
2003 NCAA champion Drew DiGiore.
"The one judge had a 9.6 and the
other had a 9.4," Golder said. "That
was the last performance of the night,
so I stayed there and talked to them a
little bit. I said (to the judge with a 9.4),
'That guy was the national champion.'
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Manipulating Opinion
In 1966. the NLF (Viet Cona)

And he goes, 'Oh he was?' He implied
that had he known that, he would have
given him a better score."
Despite the low scoring, both
DiGiore and Eddie Umphrey were able
to capture first place finishes on the
vault and still rings with scores of
9.500 and 9.300, respectively. But, the
best performance of the night came
from Andrew Elkind on the parallel
bars. Although he did not post an
extremely high score because of a low
start value, he came within a tenth of a
point of hitting his routine perfectly.
"Andrew has had trouble compet-
ing," Golder said. "But as a freshman
he has showed huge signs of knowing
how to learn to compete well."
Floor exercise proved to be a strong
event for sophomores Gerry Signorelli
and Luke Bottke. Signorelli came in
third with a score of 9.325, while Bot-
tke trailed right behind him to finish in
fourth-place with a 9.300.
The rest of the Wolverines struggled
with a combination of missed routines
and technical errors. Overall, Golder
was disappointed with the way the team
performed this late in the season.

"Some of the guys are competing like
they're scared," Golder said. "When you
hold back, you try to make sure every-
thing is perfect and, most likely, still
mess up. There are still several guys who
need to learn how to compete better."
Though the meet was far from per-
fect, the Wolverines are trying to keep a

positive outlook with the Big Ten Tour-
nament two weeks away.
"We will use this meet to examine
what went wrong and hopefully prevent
something from going wrong in the
future. I would rather have a feeling
that a peak lies ahead of us than have
things be too perfect," Golder said.

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Fri 3/12 8pm
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one with live muic by the Kronos Quartet.

TONY DING/Daily
Drew DiGiore captured first in the vault despite some problems with the judging.

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